About Chaotic Naturalism

Chaotic Naturalism was born during the Great Famine of 1845 in the Ukraine. With thousands dead and dying of starvation, the people sought solace in a religion that held God accountable for his imperfect world. In some ways, the notion sprouts from the Puritan belief that life is hard, and God cold and unsympathetic. But Chaotic Naturalists took this a step further—they sought revenge for the wrongs God had committed against them. They erected shrines made from the remnants of their crops—corn husks and dried out potatoes, and it has been reported but not proven, that they sacrificed the bodies of the sick and the weak to the burning embers of their dead crops.

Chaotic Naturalism would have been a local aberration, possibly even a temporary madness forgotten as soon as the rain returned, if not for the Medium and Occultist Helena Blavsky. A Ukraine native, she fled her abusive marriage in Tbilisi, took a sea captain lover, and traveled the world, from India to China to Brazil, and finally, New York. With her, she brought Chaotic Naturalism. In 1875, she founded the Theosophical Society, ostensibly to celebrate all aspects of Spiritualism, but in actuality, to spread the tenets of Chaotic Naturalism.

Blavsky met Edgar Schermerhorn at the Society, and their exchange of ideas birthed modern American Chaotic Naturalism. Schermerhorn, taking from Blavsky’s twelve disciples, drew the plans for his thirteen Apostle Buildings (one of which was The Breviary). Where Blavsky mocked God in deed, Schermerhorn defiled his image through architecture. When historians write about the rise of turn-of-the-century mysticism, they’re referring directly to this religion, and its descendant, modern Satanism.

When Blavsky’s health failed, and William Butler Yeats branched away from Chaotic Naturalism toward the beliefs espoused in his “Second Coming,” the religion lost momentum. Schermerhorn squandered his inheritance to finish his buildings, then hung himself from his final creation, The Mapthorpe. The Theosophical Society and its disciples disbanded. Years later, the religion was revived by occupants of Schermerhorn’s buildings in the form of Satanism, the last of which, The Breviary, was destroyed in 1976.

Helena Blavsky Wikipedia Page
“Helena Blavsky, Psychic Healer,” The New York Tribune, April 14, 1907
“Satan Gets More Respect,” The Blue Grass Blade, March 3, 1907
A history of Chaotic Naturalism by Harold Ramis (William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd., 1899).